So, in one way, the riots have changed very little. What it has done, though, is to provide Cameron's clique with a narrative back-drop. As a politician, he knows this kind of thing is the making or the breaking of his premiership. He'll be thinking of Churchill. His mind will keep looping round to: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. There's been a breakdown in political order, and Cameron and gang, the same as rival factions, are going to try to grab whatever they can.
Where should the libertarians be in this political looting spree? I would say, within this metaphor, we should be guarding our shops, armed to the teeth, in any case keeping out of it. Let us not be caught up with the mob.
The rightwing's diagnosis of society's ills is certainly accurate, up to a point. However, the course of treatment they recommend will only make matters worse. It is merely a change of heavy medication. The overbearing, authoritarian pill favoured by conservatives may be slightly more palatable, insofar as it is based on 'traditional values', rather than leftist quackery, but, and this is important, it will not work.
Libertarians seek a society based on liberty. We may have found ourselves in the same trenches as conservatives in recent times, fighting off the waves of fabian beserkers, but this should not blind us to the fundamental difference in outlook between libertarians and conservatives. We do indeed agree about many things, but not for the same reasons. If we both agree about a particular traditional liberty, such as habeas corpus, they do so because it's traditional, we do so because we believe it's right.
What about the leftwingers? Should we or can we make common cause with them? I would answer; yes, whenever possible. We certainly should not disguise our disagreements where they exist, but if the rightwing brain cell has closed down, and all it is thinking of is how to bring in National Service and teach respect for authority, give the left it's due - at least they can see the inherent folly with such notions, (at least as long as they're not running the programme).
Surely the message we should be giving is the message we always give: liberty is the answer. Let the individual citizens be empowered, not the state machinery. With the government tilting to the right, there is no better time to confront leftwingers with the error of supporting the big government, interventionist, interfering state model they generally call for.
My one concret proposal: Let us push for drug legalisation. There's no time like the present. The alternative we are faced with is a massive crackdown. The tinpot government have correctly identified the part played by the illegal drug trade in the street gang subculture, but cannot draw the rational conclusion to remove the trade from the hands of hoodlums, especially not in the midst of a hang 'em, flog 'em backlash. However, we must seek positive outcomes from the destruction of the riots, and drug legalisation could provide a rallying point for those resisting the rightwing lurch.
Cross-posted at Libertarian Home